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Un juif.jpg

Erica Meltzer

Un Juif pour l’exemple (A Jew Must Die)

By Jacques Chessex

Un Juif pour l’exemple (A Jew Must Die)

This slim, grim and riveting novella is based on a true story, about a Swiss Jew who was brutally murdered by Nazi thugs in 1942. Written at times in the first person plural, at times in a more neutral third person, it is a passionate condemnation of Swiss society both then and now in which the author makes a brief but memorable appearance. Graphic, grisly depictions and metaphors of butchery pervade the book, along with deft character sketches of the victim, a portly cattle merchant, and his obsessive, small-minded murderers. The writing is precise and economical, earthy and sinister – almost as clinically detailed as a police blotter. The fact that you know what is to come only deepens the suspense and horror.

Chessex, who was also a painter, was the first non-French citizen to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt, in 1973, and died in 2009.


This book – the last to be published in his lifetime – was made into a film by his fellow countryman Jacob Berger (see poster below). 

Un Juif pour l’exemple film.jpeg
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